Latin American Dessert Crawl: From Flan to Beyond

Last Saturday, many bloggers attended the food blogger forum and spent $60 to learn and talk with other bloggers. I spent far less money and got to eat dessert with some of my favorite writers in the city. I think I got the better end of the food blogging stick. I met up with Street Gourmet LA, Let Me Eat Cake, Eating LA, Elina Shatkin, The Minty, and we were later joined by Julie Wolfson and one of the Boobs4food sister on a Latin American dessert crawl that tackled various countries’ sweets and took us all across our beautiful city.

El Carriel bakery in Huntington Park was our first stop on the crawl and was as obsecure as can be. Bill of Street Gourmet LA was the one that found it and the whole group commented on how only he would know about this place. He has his sources, including great local publications in spanish that mention this place, along with an article about women with beards, and menudo recipes. Bill is the real deal and lead us to this Colombian bakery and ordered for us in his native tongue. The bakery was small and it seemed to just be a mother and son running the joint. He worked the counter and she was doing magic in the kitchen.

One of the first dishes we had was quite unusual and especially delightful since I am writing about it on April Fool’s Day. It was in the shape of a chicharron, it looked like a chicharron, and it was called chicharron but this dish was not fried pork skin. We were on a dessert crawl, so this was actually flakey pastry with a dulce de leche inside. There was a lot of talk about the variation of this term throughout the regions so I will leave it to the experts to explain, see the posts by my fellow crawlers. This was delicious but flakey as can be, it was the other dishes that really sold me on this place.  The next dish out was a cheesy bread called pan de bono, the non-Jews in the group called it a cheesy donut and us, Jews, thought of it as a cheesy bagel. This was out this world fantastic, the consistency inside was soft and gooey and was easily the favorite of the crawl. The next dish out was a corn arepa with queso fresco ontop and  lastly was the bunuelos that had the thirst quenching consistency of an old fashioned doughnut in the shape of a large ball. Everything was just baked and it really seemed that we stumbled in to a real authentic and delicious bakery. Bill recommended that we return for a full breakfast and I think that is the way to go. It is a little place that is not to be missed.

Amalia’s was our second stop and we went from Colombian to Guatemalan in cuisine and from Huntington Park to an area I know far better (just north of the Cha Cha Lounge on Virgil). This place had the feel of a converted house and seemed a lot more sceney than our first stop. I was getting hungry for real food but I vowed to stick to sweets and I was pleasantly surprised that the desserts were fairly savory and filling. The first dish we had was plantains stuffed with sweet beans and served with crema to dip. The other dish was a mole de platano. While both dessert were banana based I have to say the reintos, the fried platain stuffed with beans, was far surperior. Normally, fried bananas that you see on dessert menus are just way too sweet, in this dish the beans cut the sweetness and added a flavorful element that I loved.

Rincon Chileno was the third stop on the crawl, it was only a few blocks away near LACC and this place was a Chilean restaurant. The place was empty when we arrived and there was American country music blasting. Bill ordered quickly and I was shocked to see a dessert drink. When I think dessert drink my mind immediatly goes to Asian cuisine and boba. When I saw mote de huesillo drink with half a peach floating in it and barley at the bottom, Bill said it was “Chilean Boba.” I laughed but since Let Me Eat Cake and I were both feeling not 100% we both took the sicky last sips. I liked this drink a lot and it was really refreshing on a hot day. The other dish ordered was the pancakes celestinos, which had a thicker than a crepe consistency and was rolled up with a dulce de leche (remember: check the experts for the Chilean equivalent name.)  I knew the next day I would be getting my beef roll crawl on so this shape of food seemed oh-so-familiar. Both were desserts that I would order again and both were hits with the group.

El Colmao was a Cuban restaurant and our final stop on the crawl. It was here that we ordered perhaps the most famous of all Latin American dessert….Flan! However, this particular flan pictured in the main pic was topped with guava shells. This consistency was delicious. The other dessert we ordered at this establishment was something completely 100% new to me. The dessert was a coconut, sugar, and water concotion that you were then supposed to put cream cheese on top of. The cream cheese came in a packet that was cut open and it was our job to put it on top. I liked the uncouthness of this dish but I could not eat it. I don’t know what about this didn’t work for me: the texture, the mixture, or the taste? However, both Let Me Eat Cake and I made a sour face as soon as we ate it. We were the youngsters in the group so perhaps are palates weren’t refined enough but we simply couldn’t eat a second bite.

The dessert crawl may have not ended on the highest note but it was a fantastic afternoon with friends and food. Bill knows Latin American cuisines better than almost everyone and had a ton to teach me, from sea snail tacos in Sun Valley to the different Spanish dialects I got schooled. Let Me Eat Cake has an appreciation for dessert that I so often overlook and Pat of Eating LA has been the food blogger that I have read the longest and that I respect most. No, I didn’t attend the Food Blogger Forum that day but I did learn a lot and I got to get my Latin American dessert on…and eat it too!

Posts from the other crawlers about the Latin American Dessert Crawl:

The Minty

Eating LA

Let Me Eat Cake

Elina Shatkin Pics from the girl that gave us all camera envy

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3 Comments

  1. great write-up and pics!

  2. I was glad too that the desserts were actually kind of savory! Good noshing with you.

  3. this is so cool! so funny you mention boobs4food! kat (@poosekat) joined us last night for our dishcrawl in SF! 🙂 http://bit.ly/sfidshcrawl when is your next one I want to come!


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